Newcastle Knight Sam Stone is working towards a brighter future for both himself and that of the wider community.
He is a student at Hunter TAFE studying a Diploma of Engineering - Sustainable Energy which he hopes will one day lead him into the innovative renewable energy industry.
The NYC mainstay, who has been named the Hunter TAFE Student of the Month, is enjoying his course but says he had been kept on his toes by the challenging mathematics and workload.
“It’s pretty difficult. I think time management is pretty important,” he told Knights TV.
“I try to manage my time between training and classes.”
Stone was injured at the start of the year, but has made a strong return and most recently played in the Newcastle Knights’ NYC U20s match against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
The 19-year-old kicked off his footy career when he was just six-years-old playing on the Gold Coast before he moved to Newcastle and took up with the Valentine Devils when he was nine.
He has been a part of the Knights’ junior development system since he was 15-years-old and aims to one day crack the NRL.
With a busy schedule, which includes training a number of times a week and travelling away to games, managing his study can present its challenges.
But the support he receives from staff at the Club as well as from his TAFE teachers makes it a manageable task.
“They help me plenty, especially when I have to go away and miss class,” he said.
“They are really good with helping me catch up and it’s never a worry.
“I want to take football as far as I can, but if that doesn’t work, I have back up plan and I think this is as good as any.”
The NRL prides itself on being at the forefront of career development in professional sport.
According to Jane Lowder, a career coach with the NRL Career Wise program, players who live a balanced life and plan for a lifestyle after football have strong wellbeing and are often more successful on the field.
“Education is something we value,” Lowder told Knights TV at the NYC Knights’ training facility at the Hunter TAFE Tighes Hill Campus.
“More and more of the guys in NRL and NYC tell us that when they are doing something off the field that they enjoy and is meaningful, like study, they feel they play a better game.
“It’s really important the guys achieve this balance and achieve their goals both on and off the field."
The relationship between Hunter TAFE and the Newcastle Knights is helping players like Stone to find success in all aspects of their life.
“This arrangement with Hunter TAFE is just so valuable to us and the whole of our career wise program and is certainly valued by the Knights," she concluded.